marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

fairy tales in pictures

Being reading a number of fairy tales in picture book form.  Enough to get philosophical about the medium.

The thing about illustrating pictures books is that it's not enough to have some lovely ones.  You have to illustrate every single page.  If inspiration flags, this can be a problem.

There's also an art to redacting them, because they are too long, or just too much for the age group.

Some of the works I read discovering this, with the tales they illustrated.

The Water Of Life: A Tale From The Brothers Grimm retold by Barbara Rogasky, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
A beautiful and faithful retelling of one of the more obscure tales from Brothers Grimm. Hyman's illustrations are particularly wonderful, with many lovely little details on every one. Even on the pages with text there are inset pictures, perhaps moving the story, perhaps just touching up the setting.

Little Red Riding Hood retold and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
A straight-forward retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, with Hyman's gorgeous illustration, with plenty of attention to detail like the cats and kittens frolicking about her mother's kitchen, and the mushrooms in the woods. It interchanges a full page illustration with a page of text, surrounded by a wide, decorated border, with little inset pictures that show the setting or the story progressing.

The Sleeping Beauty retold and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
Our old friend, Sleeping Beauty, retold from the Brothers Grimm. Only lightly altered, and nothing that really changes the plot

What really makes this one, however, is Hyman's illustrations. Which are stunning. There's a running theme of an arched window, or something like it, in just about all of them. I also note the prince looks uncommonly mature for a fairy tale prince -- easy to believe he's bold enough.

Rapunzel retold by Barbara Rogasky, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
A straight-forward retelling of the tale, with only a few bits of elaboration, all of which worked well.

Hyman's illustrations are gorgeous. In the squares between bits of text, there are lovely little detailed pictures to fill the gaps, all the pictures have borders of great artistry, and the story goes in a wonderful pictures.

Snow White retold by Paul Heins, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
Trina Hyman does lovely work on this faithful retelling of Snow White. I particularly like the details and the use of chiaroscuro.

Needless to say Snow White does not look seven years old, as the text claims she is -- especially not in the last scene, where the prince asks her to marry him. But then, no illustrator ever does. (Even if they don't make her grow up between the queen's visits, which would make more sense.) Especially since here, as in Sleeping Beauty, the prince definitely looks like a mature man.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses retold and illustrated by Ruth Sanderson
A beautifully illustrated retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, with gorgeous levels of detail. Some are less impressive than others, but none are perfunctory.

The blurb claims it's retelling the Brothers Grimm. It's not. It's retelling the version that Andrew Lang included in The Red Fairy Book; although a few details are closer to Grimms' than to that one, most favor the French one.

Sleeping Beauty retold by Mahlon F. Craft, illustrated by K.Y. Craft
Has some lovely pictures. Has some, also, not so lovely ones -- the problem I suspect is that picture books illustrators have to illustrate every scene, which is not an ability common even among good artists.

Also has an illuminated capital letter for each page. Those are all lovely

The Crab Prince by Christopher Manson
A retelling of an Italian fairy tale.

Faithful and aquatic version of a woman saving a man trapped in shapeshfiting -- though in the other version I have read the heroine's a princess, and there are some other details that were added to spruce it up, they work well. Pictures are nice if not spectacular.

Little Gold Star retold by Robert D. San Souci, illustrated by Sergio Martinez
A retelling of a fairy tale from the Southwest.

Definitely of the same type as Cinderella, in large chunks, but the impossible tasks get switches from what the heroine has to do to go to the ball, or instead of it, the stepmother sets them at the end, as the condition of her consent to the match. (And it's not a ball but a fiesta in honor of a saint.)

And she's not helped by her dead mother, because the tale opens with an episode of the kind and unkind girls, where religious figures are plopped down with the same roles that other figures feature in other tale types.

Art is good but not spectacular.
Tags: aesthetics, children's books, fairy tale reviews, writing audience

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